If you’re an Xbox owner, chances are you heard about Xbox Game Pass when it came out last year. For most people it wasn’t that big of a deal. It included some good titles like Halo 5 but a lot of the titles that were included were the games that were in the bargain bin at this point or were older 360 games enabled through backwards compatibility.
Due to this, I never game the Xbox Game Pass much of a thought. I usually buy most of the new releases, and by the time they would make it something like game pass I’d be long done playing them. The price at $10 a month is fine, I just couldn’t see how it would be saving me any money.
New Releases Now Included With Xbox Game Pass
Enter the announcement this week from Microsoft, the tables have turned a little. Rather than putting games into the service after they’d been out for a while, they’re now going to put all first party releases into the service when they’re released. That’s a game changer for a lot of people. This means that Microsoft’s big upcoming game, Sea of Thieves, will be available from the service when it’s released March 20th, 2018. Not only that, but every upcoming Forza, Halo, and Gears game will also be available from the service. If Microsoft releases two major games a year that you’d normally buy, then right off the bat you’ll be breaking even by doing the subscription, plus you’ll now get all these additional games that you normally wouldn’t.
In addition, there’s a wildcard here that makes it even better, Xbox Game Sharing. If you have a friend or second home xbox that you’re already sharing games with, this will work with that as well. So when Sea of Thieves comes out, you’ll be able to get it on two different Xbox’s if you’re using game sharing in tandem with the game pass. I do game sharing at home, and this will be huge for me.
Will I be buying this service? I think the answer is probably ‘yes’. I have a data limit on my internet which makes downloading full games rather difficult, but the money I’d save is just too good to pass up. There’s definitely no harm in trying it for a year if you know you’re going to buy two of the games anyways, the worst you could do is break even.
One thing that’s gotten more popular the past 15 years or so is the emergence of personal home theaters. With those theaters has come projectors, theater seating, and of course, popcorn machines. I got into home theater back in 2003, building a dedicated home theater complete with home theater chairs and projector. Unfortunately at that time, I couldn’t afford a popcorn machine, spent most of my money just finishing the basement.
Fast forward about 10 years, I finally had enough money to buy a popcorn machine. I did a bunch of research on them, finally figured out that the machine had to have two key features:
old maid drawer
In all the reviews I read, they all mentioned that those things were two of the biggest nice features to have. That narrowed down the field quite a bit.
I also had to decide what size of a kettle to get, 4, 6, or 8 oz. It was pretty obvious from reading that the 8 oz was going to be way too much for home use unless you used smaller packs in it. That left 4 oz and 6 oz sizes. I went back and forth and finally decided on the 4 oz. Most people said that 4 oz made popcorn for 4 people, which seemed about right for my typical use case.
Next was to figure out what manufacturer to buy from. Back then, there was a company producing a fairly cheap machine at less than $200 I believe and then there were the Paragon Popcorn Machines that were slightly more expensive. Almost everyone said to go with the more expensive machine because it will last forever and parts are readily available should you need them. They were 100% correct, I would have totally regretted getting a cheaper model. I’ll probably have this machine for decades, so saving $100 on something like that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I had the choice of copper, red, or yellow colored. While red and yellow might go good in some basements, in mine the copper looked a lot more classy overall, so I went with that. Amazon sells it now as well, you can see it through my affiliate link below:
The Cineplex was a breeze to setup. Mainly just putting in the light bulb, removing all the packing material, and then it’s ready to use. It’s mostly already put together for you.
What isn’t specified though is exactly how you make the popcorn. I thought that was an interesting omission, maybe they’ve corrected it by now. I had to go look up the ratios and everything before I could actually use it.
Once you figure out how to make the popcorn, it’s actually very easy to do. It’s basically:
turn on the power
turn on the kettle
wait for the kettle to warm up
put in the cooking oil, popcorn, and seasoning in that order
put the lid back on the kettle
wait for the popcorn to come out
when it’s done popping, turn off the kettle
Dump out the kettle into the bottom of the machine
scoop and eat
What isn’t quite so easy is the mess it makes over time. Admittedly, I’m not a very good cleaner after I make it, and you don’t really have to be. But after a while, you get a lot of oil on the windows that you’ll have to really work at to get off. Just a note for those thinking about, you don’t really have be super clean about it, but eventually you’ll have to clean it good.
The popcorn from the machine is fantastic, just like the theater. It definitely is a step up from microwave popcorn, a big hit at parties (especially for the smell it produces, everyone loves that smell).
Long Term Use
So unlike a normal review, I’ve had this machine for years. Due to that, I can attest to the build quality of it. I’ve never had one issue with it over these past years, even the light bulb is still going. Cleaning is the only drawback to the thing, if you’ve got the space and love popcorn, it’s hard to go wrong.
I originally bought all the individual supplies separately but I’ve been thinking about doing the packs instead. Easier to store, less mess, probably tastes better ( but also less healthy too unfortunately). When I try those out I’ll update this review with those results. I’m thinking about trying out several different kinds to see what I like best.
If you’ve got the space and plan on using it long term, it’s hard to go wrong with the Paragon Cineplex Popcorn Machine. It’s reliable, makes great popcorn, is affordable, and looks great in your home. There really aren’t any major drawbacks to it other than the cleaning. Hopefully this review helps in your search. I’ve also put together a popcorn machine guide based upon my experiences.
Some of you reading this website are probably members of the pinside forum, the biggest and best pinball forum on the Internet currently. If you’re not, this article is to educate you on it while giving some tips and pointers to help you along the way.
The Main Pinside Forum
This is where the large majority of people will spend most of their time. Basically, people post topics about games, manufacturers, mods, and other things at a very high rate, making it pretty hard to keep up with it sometimes. If you’re into pinball and want something to read 24 hours a day, there’s enough there to keep you occupied for years. The main forum is located here:
Where the forum really comes in handy is when you need one of four things:
Buying a pinball game
Selling a pinball game
Fixing a pinball machine
Modding a pinball machine
Buying and Selling a Game
When buying a game, you used to find most games through forum topics that people started. Now though, all games for sale must go through the marketplace. They may still have a forum topic assigned to them if the seller chooses, but it’s better to just search the marketplace to begin with. The marketplace can be found here:
Besides just looking for games to buy, you can also sell your game on the marketplace. The marketplace is a great place to list your game. However, you should know that it is not a free listing unlike Mr. Pinball or Craigslist. You will find far more buyers on Pinside though then those other two places. When listing a game, the most important things are to have good pictures, a good description, and a fair price. You do all those things, and you’ll likely have a buyer fairly quickly as long as your location isn’t in the middle of nowhere.
When selling a game, you can choose whether or not to add a forum topic along with your marketplace listing. Generally this a good idea UNLESS you’re asking a well above average price. In that case, you’re going to get raked over the coals by the price police (basically users who point out to new users that their asking price is ridiculous). You can still do it in that case, just need to have some thick skin.
If you go into the main page for each game, there is a marketplace archive which details what every game sold for in the past few years. That really helps when determining valuation.
Modding a Pinball Machine
Ten years ago, modding a pinball machine was limited to Addams Family and Twilight Zone mainly. Today though, modding has kind of gone a little out of control. There are hundreds of threads related to modding every single pinball machine out there it seems. The best place to look if you want to mod your machine is in the individual game threads. Every game has a huge ‘official’ thread that details mods, repairs, rule explanations, etc.
A lot of the mods are now in the marketplace. If you find the mod in the official thread and want to buy it, going to the marketplace for that game is a good idea.
Some of the general mods like Color DMD, Pinstadium lights, Pinsound, etc have their own dedicated threads. Reading these threads can help you determine if that mod will work on your machine and how much work it will be to install it. Some mods are really easy to install, some are rather difficult.
Tips and Tricks to the Forum
When you register, you can add your games to your ‘collection’ in your profile. I would recommend doing this as sometimes it can lead to trades and other helpful things.
If you read the forum a lot, you’ll notice that some posters post 50x more than other posters, and are often in every single thread stirring the pot. I’d recommend either putting those users on ‘ignore’ or not engaging in conversation with them if you can avoid it. They’ll just make your online experience less enjoyable for the most part.
The Top 100 list of best games is a good starting point when looking at games. However, very rarely does anyone’s personal top games match that list, it’s all about what you’re into. The list is also heavily weighted towards art, so you have games that play not so great but are beautiful (like Tales of the Arabian Nights) right around the tenth spot.
If you own a Tornado Foosball table long enough, eventually you’re going to crack or break one of your Foosball men. Luckily it isn’t that hard to replace the men, provided you have the right tools to do it.
Removing the Broken Foosball Man
The men are held in place by roll pins on Tornado Tables. Unfortunately these pins don’t screw or bolt in place, they’re hammered into place with a special tool. That tool is available through my Amazon affiliate link below:
Without this tool, it will be much harder. With this tool, you can punch out the old roll pin from the man. When you do this, you have to make sure that you brace the rod under the man with a piece of wood so you don’t bend the rod when you’re doing it. With the wood in place and the tool inserted in the pin, you can then gently hammer out the roll pin.
I made a video below to try and show how it’s done:
Replacing the Broken Foosball Man
Now is where you’re going to come to the realization that in order to replace one man, you have to remove all the men on the rod. This is especially painful on the center rods that have 5 men to remove. One thing also to note is that the foot on some of the newer players is slightly different than the older players. I believe that when they came out with the new Tornado Classic, Sport, Elite, and T-3000 line they redesigned the foot slightly for better play.
If you’re replacing this man on a table that doesn’t have counter-balanced men, it might be a good idea to look into doing this since you have to remove all the men on that rod anyways. Plus it’s not a very expensive upgrade.
Once you have all the men removed and all the new men slid on, it’s time to reinstall them with roll pins. To do this, you’ll need the same wood block underneath the rod as before, along with the roll pin punch and a hammer. Get the man aligned with the hole in the rod and hit the pin into the man gently until it is flush with the front. Repeat this with all the other men.
Eventually, if you own your Foosball table long enough, you’re going to have to clean and maintain it. The playfield gets dirty, the rods don’t spin as well, and the balls start to look dingy.
Cleaning the Foosball playfield
The first part to clean is the playfield. Usually this is filled with dust and other specks of stuff. I’d first recommend vacuuming the table to get all of the loose particles sucked up. Once that’s complete, the next step is use a liquid cleaner.
There are a couple schools of thought on this one, but I recommend just using plain old Windex to clean the playfield. It cleans pretty good and won’t harm the laminate in any way. If you have dirt that is particularly ground in and won’t come off, I’d recommend some Novus 2 cleaner to get it out.
Cleaning the Rods
The next part to clean are the Foosball rods. The rods over time get kind of grimy due to the silicon lube picking up dust and drying out. The first thing to do is clean the rods with a dry rag or paper towels to get all the dirt off them. Once that is done, the next part is to apply some silicon lube to the rods. You can get the lube through my Amazon affiliate here:
It will make a big difference to those rods if they haven’t been serviced in a while. In fact I made a video here to show the difference:
Cleaning the Foosball Men
Cleaning the foosball men is pretty easy, just clean them in the same way you cleaned the playfield. A clean rag plus some Windex will clean them right up.
Cleaning the Foosball Balls
Depending on what kind of balls you have, they may clean slightly differently. The really hard plastic ones can be cleaned with Windex or Novus 2. They pick up dirt pretty easily and might take a while to clean.
Official Tornado Balls which are pink or yellow usually clean in a slightly different way. Most people suggest one of two methods:
Washing them in a sack in the washing machine
Covering the inside of a coffee can with sandpaper and shaking with the balls inside.
Seems like the first one would be the easiest. I wouldn’t wash anything with the balls that could either stain the balls or clothes the balls might stain. After you wash them, you’ll set them out to air dry.
Hopefully this article on how to clean your Foosball table has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, please let me know. I plan on making an additional video that shows more details in the coming weeks.